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Cathedral Spires

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Cathedral Spires 


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Location: 43.8487, -103.5333 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 179,465
Administrators: Andrew Gram, Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Andy Busse, Mike Housiaux, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Peter Gram on Jun 24, 2002
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Evening view from the top of Khayyam Spire.

Description 

The Cathedral Spires hold some of the longer routes in the Black Hills. This is a great place for beginners to learn how to lead multi-pitch trad routes (classic 3-pitch routes that go at 5.4 and under). Also, there are many more challenging area classics. Most routes lead to awesome small summit perches.

Make sure to check out the standard routes on Spires 1-4, Station 13, God's Own Drunk, and Cat's Meow. Many routes have great belay ledges, and most all routes require a rappel (often needing double ropes). Few bolts exist, so bring a standard rack for almost every route. However, many fixed anchors are available.

The Cathedral Spires are numbered 1 through 9. There are roughly 75 summits in all in this small area, and many main gully systems for approaches. Nine main rock systems exist (each separated by a gully) with the highest spire given the number 1 through 9. The gullies become fairly unclear between Spires 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.


Getting There 

Follow the signs from Hill City to Sylvan Lake. At the Sylvan Lake entrance, pay the entrance fee, then drive 2.2 miles on highway 87 past the Needle's Eye, through the tunnel, and park at a small lot that is located on a tight hairpin curve. The Cathedral Spires can be clearly seen towards the north, and Sandberg Peak (5.8) is the cool rickety spire next to the lot.

Hike north towards the Cathedral Spires on trail #4 from the parking lot. Watch out for a faint trail leading off to the NE as you get close to the spires. Approaches vary per spire, but either follow the main trail up the hill and approach from the back side (uphill side) of the spires, or take this trail junction for lower spires.

At this point, usually a map is needed to choose the correct gully to hike up. Find out the appropriate gully and look for landmarks. The widest gully is the Spire 4-5 gully. Another landmark to look for is Khayyam Spire. It is located at the bottom of the Spire 2-3 gully, and has a steep yellow face on its south side.


57 Total Routes


['4 Stars',12],['3 Stars',33],['2 Stars',9],['1 Star',3],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',11],['5.7',13],['5.8',5],['5.9',9],['5.10',7],['5.11',7],['5.12',4],['5.13',1],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Cathedral Spires:
Sprire Four   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c     Trad, 2 pitches, 210'   Spire Four
North Crack   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 3 pitches, 250'   Balcony Point
Jan and Jane Route   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13     Trad, 2 pitches, 250'   Spire Two
West Gruesome   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 2 pitches   Spire Four
The Great Northwest Dihedral   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 4 pitches, 280'   Spire Four
East Face   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 3 pitches, 250'   Spire Two
International Chimney   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R     Trad, 3 pitches, 250'   Spire Three
Kamps Route   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Rubaiyat Spire
East Chimney Variation   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 2 pitches, 150'   Station 13
Spire 1 Reppy Variation   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 4 pitches, 215'   Spire One
Spire One East Chimney    5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 3 pitches, 200'   Spire One
Eyetooth   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 150'   Eyetooth
God's Own Drunk   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 320'   Khayyam Spire
South Tower Conn Route   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Sport, 2 pitches   Spire Four
Cat's Meow   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 3 pitches, 200'   Spire Three
Tagua   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   Tusk
Hang a Right at Fourth Avenue   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 2 pitches, 220'   Spire Four
Yellow Wall   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Trad, 3 pitches, 320'   Khayyam Spire
Spooky, station 13 SE arete   5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a PG13     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   Station 13
Highly Suspicious   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   Station 13
Browse More Classics in Cathedral Spires

Featured Route For Cathedral Spires
Start on top of the higher block shown here.  Getting ready to start up, trying to figure out the most logical line.

Kamps Route 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b  SD : Custer State Park : ... : Rubaiyat Spire
This is a well protected but still somewhat spicy lead up the north face of the spire. Follow discontinuous cracks up the vertical face until a large ledge when it is possible and logical to traverse left into an rightward arching chimney. Make your way up this chimney and consider belaying your second from the top of the flake to lessen rope drag. The second pitch (if you choose to make it a second pitch) then clips a bolt across the chasm made by the flake, and moves up and right into a fla...[more]   Browse More Classics in SD

Photos of Cathedral Spires Slideshow Add Photo
I just happen to catch the right light on the way out of the park.  Cathederal Spires from the South
I just happen to catch the right light on the way ...
Spires <br />
Spires
Here's one more of the Spires from the South.
Here's one more of the Spires from the South.
Cathedral Spires from the north.
Cathedral Spires from the north.
Spires in the rain.
Spires in the rain.
The Spires from the Southeast. Spire 3 is just visible on the left skyline -- Spires 4-9 strung out in a line.
BETA PHOTO: The Spires from the Southeast. Spire 3 is just vis...
The Cathedral Spires as seen from the top of Bartizan.  I've labeled them to the best of my knowledge using the Piana map for the one's I'm not personally familiar with.  If I've screwed something up, let me know. For those of you who haven't been to the top of Bartizan, the view is awesome and this photo does not do it justice!
BETA PHOTO: The Cathedral Spires as seen from the top of Barti...
Picket Fence, etc. from the top of the Spire 2/3 gulley.  June 08.
Picket Fence, etc. from the top of the Spire 2/3 g...
Katherine Chumacero - rap off Rubiyat Spire, 5.8 Conn Route.
Katherine Chumacero - rap off Rubiyat Spire, 5.8 C...
Lily in the Spire 2/3 gulley.  June 08.
Lily in the Spire 2/3 gulley. June 08.
Afternoon storm brewing over the Spires. View from the top of Hairy Pin.
Afternoon storm brewing over the Spires. View from...
Spires 1 thru 4 as seen from the parking lot...
Spires 1 thru 4 as seen from the parking lot...
Messing around with Photoshop.
Messing around with Photoshop.
Lillies of some sort on the way to the Cathedral Spires.
Lillies of some sort on the way to the Cathedral S...
Cathedral Spires from the top of Nantucket Sleighride on Moby Dick.
BETA PHOTO: Cathedral Spires from the top of Nantucket Sleighr...
EARLY morning shot
EARLY morning shot
The spires with a storm brewing
The spires with a storm brewing
The Spires from a slightly different angle.  May 09.
The Spires from a slightly different angle. May 0...
No matter how many times I see this scene I cannot believe how beautiful it is.  Cathedral Spires, June 08.
No matter how many times I see this scene I cannot...
Spires from Andrew Tower. July 2013.
Spires from Andrew Tower. July 2013.
Cathedral Spires. <br />Photo by Blitzo.
Cathedral Spires.
Photo by Blitzo.
spire 4 and eyetooth
spire 4 and eyetooth
Similar to Previous photo with a little different composition.
Similar to Previous photo with a little different ...
Closeup of the Cathedral Spires.
BETA PHOTO: Closeup of the Cathedral Spires.
Cathedral Spires from the north atop Little Devils Tower
Cathedral Spires from the north atop Little Devils...
A pic from the trail
A pic from the trail
When it gets too hot to climb at the needles... <br />Sylvan Lake from the rocks above on a 106 degree day in July of 2006.
When it gets too hot to climb at the needles...
Sy...
Ahhhh, yea
Ahhhh, yea
This view never gets old.
This view never gets old.
Walking out with Jay and Aaron.
Walking out with Jay and Aaron.
Harney peak, mystery spires, Picket Fence
Harney peak, mystery spires, Picket Fence
The Spires from the south.  Amazing place.
The Spires from the south. Amazing place.
Spires 1 through 4 from the Picket Fence.
Spires 1 through 4 from the Picket Fence.
The Cathedral Spires by mid-day light. Photo by Tony Bubb, 7/'06
The Cathedral Spires by mid-day light. Photo by To...
Travis, AJ, and Brian on spire 1, with spires 2 and 3 in the foreground, with station 13 over to the right.  Taken from spire 4.
Travis, AJ, and Brian on spire 1, with spires 2 an...
Me leading Empire State Building, 5.10
Me leading Empire State Building, 5.10
The grumpy old man at the bottom of the photo can be found somewhere in the Spires.
The grumpy old man at the bottom of the photo can ...
Atop Balcony Point, Spire 2
Atop Balcony Point, Spire 2
The 2-3 gulley from the top of Khayyam spire.  Climbers getting ready to do Spire 3.
The 2-3 gulley from the top of Khayyam spire. Cli...
Hopefully This will help you Find your Way
BETA PHOTO: Hopefully This will help you Find your Way
Comments on Cathedral Spires Add Comment
Show which comments
By Anonymous Coward
Sep 8, 2003

WHEN IT COMES TO CLIMBING IN THE BLACK HILLS THE SPIRES ARE ABOUT AS GOOD AS IT COULD EVER BE. BEUTIFUL TEMPS KNOWBODY AROUND AND SUPER LONG ONE PITCH ROUTES PLUS SOME MOST EXILLENT MULTI PITCH ROUTES SUCH AS CONN ROUTE ON RYBIUAT, THE YELLOW WALL, AND WINDOW TO THE WEST. IF YOU DONT GO THERE ENOUGH YOU WILL NEVER FIGURE THE PLACE OUT SO IF YOUR LOOKING FOR A CHANGE OF PACE FROM THE SHMORE OR CANYON WHATEVER HEAD ON UP TO THE NEEDLES & HOP ON SOMETHING YOU HAVE NEVER DONE.

By Ryan Minton
Nov 25, 2003

Is anyone aware of whether or not any ice forms in the Spires during the winter months? The Worm Hole Route on Spire 4 gets pretty wet in the summer at times, maybe there would be some potential for ice to form? Any info is appreciated...

By john bradley
Jun 6, 2007

hey danno,
I recommend summer. SD is usually windy and even on a calm day you'll feel it on these spires. Of course I'm little picky tho.
john

By joelhagan
From: Rapid City, SD
Jun 10, 2007

I've been climbing every month this year!!! It's always a good time to climb the Black Hills.

By randy baum
From: Minneapolis, MN
Jul 15, 2008

If climbing Freaky Fright, Myopic Matron, or other small spires in the area, take webbing, rap rings, and/or extra pro to replace or back up anchors. Freaky Fight's anchors, for instance, are especially in disrepair. Two 30 year-old pitons equalized with aged 7-8 mm cord.